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Apple patent applications offer glimpses of haptic screens, RFID readers, fingerprint ID

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Alright, so you know the drill by now. A patent application doesn't necessarily mean an actual product is on the way -- but it's always fun to speculate, right? And this latest trio of applications from Apple certainly provides plenty of speculation fodder. The most notable of the lot is an application for a "multi-touch display screen with localized tactile feedback," which Apple seems to be at least considering as a possibility for the iPhone (or iPod touch). Like some similar systems, Apple's application covers a screen that uses a grid of piezoelectric actuators that can be activated at will to provide vibrational feedback when you touch the screen. Apple even goes so far as to use a virtual click wheel on an iPhone as an example. Other patent applications include a fairly self-explanatory RFID reader embedded in a touch screen, and a fingerprint identification system that could not only be used for security, but to identify individual fingers as an input method -- for instance, letting you use your index finger for play/stop and your middle finger to fast forward.

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